Huffington Post Blog: On Bedside Baptist

I can’t remember how many times I’ve learned – and relearned! – the lesson about the pitfalls of busyness. (Check out one of those times here.)

But a few days ago I found myself in that space again: suddenly realizing the toll overcommitting was having; this time not just on me, but my family as well.

Head on over to the Huffington Post to check out my latest post on my membership-in-good-standing at Bedside Baptist and, most importantly, the liberty I found there.

Huffington Post Blog: On Millennials and Faith

I had the great honor of being published on The Huffington Post last week.

Speaking to the prevailing rhetoric that the Millennial generation is less religious than previous ones, I offered a different view to what my generation may be looking for in religion.

Take a read.  Leave a comment.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/safiya-jafari-simmons/on-millennials-and-faith_b_4193964.html

Devotional: It Ain’t About You

*This devotional was originally written by me in May 2012, but it’s a good reminder.  I hope it blesses you!

Sunday, I took my kids to Richmond, VA, to spend the day with my mom on Mother’s Day.  It was a last-minute decision, so by the time I joined my family at church, the Bishop was wrapping up.  Once service was over, I made my way to the altar to say hello to him.

We talked back and forth, I introduced him to my son, and before too long, my father had joined us in our chat.

My father went on to tell the Bishop about my new job and how proud he was of me.  The Bishop was proud, too, and he congratulated me.  He then said something that I’ve thought about frequently since.

He looked at me and said, “Look, this is a great opportunity for you.  But God has you here for your husband.  Your husband is going to be able to go anywhere he wants to in the federal government through you.  So your connections, your work.  God’s going to use you to bless your husband. And he put you there to tell the truth.  Always tell the truth.”

Hearing the Bishop prophesy about my husband’s future brought tears to my eyes.  I don’t know how much I’ve told you all about my husband, but he’s a phenomenal man.  He works full-time as a police officer, takes our oldest child to school, works out, takes care of both babies throughout the day, drops and picks me up from work, cooks dinner most nights, cleans everything, and on top of that is a full-time student. He is selfless, intelligent, thoughtful and far greater of a husband than I ever imagined I’d have.

So, given all of that, you can understand why a prophesy of blessings for my hard-working husband would cause such a reaction in me.

But you know, the more I thought about the entire exchange, the more I realized the greater message in what Bishop said.  It’s this: the idea that even though we’re most often consumed with our plans, our goals, and what God has for us, the truth is that sometimes our placement, our promotion is so God can use us to be a blessing to someone else.

I know, I know.  It may not be a revolutionary, life-changing epiphany to you.  But I feel strongly today, right now, that someone reading this is wondering why God has them where they are.

Perhaps you can’t figure out why you’re stalled, why your promotion hasn’t come, or this season hasn’t ended.  Maybe you feel like for some reason God isn’t answering your prayers to move on, to do something different, to go somewhere new.

Well, let me encourage you: perhaps, just perhaps, it ain’t about you!

Not what you were expecting, I’m sure, but I do mean this to be an encouragement.  Maybe all the hell you’re going through on your job isn’t because you’re being punished, but because God is teaching someone else a lesson, growing them, testing them, stretching them.

Maybe you’ve been single so long not because God intends for you to spend your life alone, but because he’s preparing your wife or husband, maturing them, blessing them, grooming them.

Maybe your resumes are going unanswered not because you don’t qualify, but because that job is for someone else who’s had it worse, for longer, and for whom this is their break.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s ain’t about you!

And to be honest, it ain’t always going to be supernatural.  Case and point: maybe that flat tire that you had on the way to work kept someone else from getting into a life-altering accident.

Maybe the phone call, text, FB post, tweet, or email that you never got kept a door closed that would have brought you nothing but heartache.

Or maybe the phone call, text, FB post, tweet, or email that YOU SENT was never responded to to stop you from introducing drama to someone else’s life.

You know, as I thought about this devotional, the Lord brought to my remembrance something that my friend and mentor at Zion Church, Min. Katana, has said more than once in our small groups.  And it’s this, “Sure, God doesn’t need us for His will to be done, but often He works through people.  And He can’t work if you don’t let Him.”  Now, I paraphrased that, but what I want you to get is this: you can’t be open to God’s leading and His desire to use you if you’re fixated on what you think you’re going through.

I mean, that’s just logical: how can you hear God’s voice over your own “woe is me”, pity party?

Look, my prayer for you today is that your thinking will be changed.  That you and I both will move from me-centric thinking to He- capital H – He-centric thinking, being always aware of God being at work.

And if you can’t remember that, if you find yourself so frustrated, sad, disappointed, confused, or dejected because of your circumstances, then prayerfully you’ll remember this, John 15:16, that says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in name.”

Wondering why you haven’t gotten what you seek? Wondering why you haven’t been released from this job, this relationship, this assignment, this place or this season?

I guarantee you that if you begin to ask God how you can be of service to Him where you are, ask Him why He’s placed you where you are, appointed you to do what you’re doing, seek Him and ask those questions and you’ll be well on your way to seeing the Lord open the path to your next appointment.

 

Devotional: Where Is Your Faith?

When I was growing up I remember a commercial that would come on television every night.  It was a simple commercial that frankly asked, “It’s 8 o’clock.  Do you know where your children are?”

Now I cannot remember the imagery that accompanied that ad, but the ad itself is prominent in my memory.  The idea that every family, every parent, every child could reach a point at which it was necessary to check-in, to do a status check.  That fascinated me.

And then on top of that, to know that other parents and other kids were hearing the same commercial down the street, the next neighborhood over, heck, even in the next state.

That commercial for me signified the importance of contact, of following up, of checking in, of knowing where you – or your kids – stood before…

Before something bad happened, before it was too late, before someone else asked you.  Whatever the “before” was, it always felt like this short question gave parents the opportunity to step away from whatever they were doing and take stock.

You know, as I think about it more I’m led to ask you this question: It’s prayer time.  Do you know where your faith is?

The Reverend James Cleveland asked the very same question years before I was born in a song I heard a lot growing up:

Say you’ve been sick? Tell me about it. And you think you can’t
get well
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re in trouble? Tell me about it. And you’re going to court next week
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re out of work? Tell me about it. And all your bills are due
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’ve got a habit? Tell me about it. Think you’re hooked and can’t get free
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God?

Say you’re out of money? Tell me about it. And you’re down to your last dime
Where is your faith? Where is your faith in– God? 

***

Last year, Pastor Keith Battle at Zion Church did a series called “In God We Trust.”  Over a series of weeks he walked us through identifying the error in some of our ways, the mistake that is trusting in other people, places and things.

See, it is so easy to begin putting our faith in other people and things.  We trust our bosses and our spouses.  We put our faith in plans and big ideas.  We put our faith in our cars, ourselves.  But what we really need to do is put and keep our faith in God.

The oft-quoted Proverbs 3:5 comes to mind now.  It says, “Lean not to your own understandings.  But in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”

So, I’ll ask again: it’s prayer time.  Do you know where you faith is?

What? Your faith is in check?  OK, then maybe I should ask you like this…

The bills are due; do you know where your faith is?

The doctor said there’s no more he can do; do you know where your faith is?

You’ve submitted that job application; do you know where your faith is?

You’re waiting for your mortgage or rent application to be approved, do you know where your faith is?

You’ve got to ring out at the grocery store; do you know where your faith is?

Your gas tank is nearly empty and it’s only Tuesday, do you know where your faith is?

You just received more bad news; do you know where your faith is?

That great opportunity fell through; do you know where your faith is?

You’re still waiting for your husband or wife; do you know where your faith is?

Your kids can’t get right; do you know where your faith is?

Your friends can’t be found and you’ve gotta talk to someone, do you know where your faith is?

Your loved one is gone; do you know where your faith is?

They’re giving you hell at work; do you know where your faith is?

You’re getting hell at home; do you know where your faith is?

Your problems are so bad that they’re following you to bed, showing up in your dreams. It’s bedtime; do you know where your faith is?

Look, the reality is that no matter what time it is for you in your life right now – no matter what you’re waiting for or what miracle you stand in need of – now is the time to check your faith and check-in with God.

My grandmother’s church used to say it like this.  They’d say,

“My faith is built on nothing less, but Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Look I don’t know what time it is in your life.

I don’t know if you’re just entering a storm, riding through one, or at the midnight hour.  But what I do know is  no matter your circumstances, no matter your situation, now is the time to make sure your faith is anchored in Christ Jesus.

Don’t trust in other people.  Don’t try to fix it yourself with your own plans.  But give it over to God.

What time is it for you?  And where is your faith?